DHS tightens oversight of state-run mental health services [UPDATED]Published 1:33am Monday, April 23, 2012 Updated 1:34pm Monday, April 23, 2012
Top officials at the state Department of Human Services will have greater involvement in the oversight of state-operated mental health services under a restructuring plan announced Friday.
The restructuring comes shortly after the Office of the Legislative Auditor began a yearlong audit into the wide range of mental health clinics, treatment programs, and facilities known as State Operated Services. The programs include the Minnesota Security Hospital, the St. Peter facility for those deemed mentally ill and dangerous.
The facility has come under scrutiny in recent months for licensing violations and staff turmoil, culminating in the forced resignation of Minnesota Security Hospital administrator David Proffitt in late March.
State Operated Services now reports to Maureen O’Connell, the assistant commissioner for the department’s Chemical and Mental Health Services Administration, who reports to Deputy Commissioner Anne Barry. Starting April 25, State Operated Services will report directly to Barry, who reports to DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson.
Barry said the move creates a clear separation from DHS officials who work on policy issues and department employees who provide direct care to patients. The move also creates a more streamlined operation, which will allow DHS to respond promptly to any recommendations from the Office of the Legislative Auditor, a nonpartisan office that evaluates state agencies and programs, Barry said.
“There’s a very direct route to leadership here, and changes can take place pretty quickly,” she said.
Barry said she will continue to make weekly visits to the Minnesota Security Hospital to monitor the facility’s progress in meeting licensing standards. The department’s licensing division placed the facility on a conditional license in December after an inspection found problems with the facility’s policies on the use of restraints.
By Madeleine Baran
Minnesota Public Radio News